Black Diamond appeared four years after Stan Ridgway's previous solo album and sported a substantially different sound. Although Ridgway's voice and unique storytelling lyrics put his stamp on whatever he attempts, the acoustic guitars and relatively straightforward approach on Black Diamond make it a distinct departure from everything he has done before. While "Big Dumb Town" and "Knife and Fork" are products of Ridgway's usual fixations, "Gone the Distance" sounds almost like Neil Young, "As I Went Out One Morning" is a Bob Dylan song, and "Luther Played Guitar" is an utterly sincere C&W tribute to Johnny Cash and his Tennessee Two. While the effort to normalize Ridgway's sound doesn't always yield a superior result, the experiment will fascinate longtime fans.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams